Canadian Senator Sets Sights on Sports Betting Advertising With Bill

Canadian Senator Sets Sights on Sports Betting Advertising With Bill
By Steve Bittenbender
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Regulators in Ontario are considering new Ontario sports betting rules that would ban gaming companies from using athletes and other celebrities who may appeal to minors in their marketing materials.

But a Canadian lawmaker thinks a larger approach is necessary.

Sen. Marty Deacon, ISG-Ontario, filed Senate Bill 269 on Tuesday. Her bill calls for a “national framework” of regulations for sports betting ads.

If approved, S-269 would give the administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau one year from the day it becomes law to develop those regulations. Deacon’s bill does not include any specific items. Instead, it calls for the Minister of Canadian Heritage to work with other federal ministers, provincial officials, First Nations communities and other stakeholders to develop those regulations.

On Thursday, Deacon spoke with OntarioBets about her concerns regarding sports betting advertising and the next steps for the legislation, which received its first reading in the Senate on Tuesday.

Canadians ‘Subjected’ to Barrage of Ads

Deacon voted yes two years ago to C-218, the measure that legalized single-game sports betting in the country. As a longtime coach and a current Canadian Olympic Committee director, she has long had concerns about match manipulation and felt that updating the country’s criminal code to allow the activity, including online Ontario sportsbook apps, was the right step.

She said she had no regrets in supporting the bill then, but one thing she did not expect was the barrage of commercials and other promotional mentions of sportsbooks.

“We thought there might be some advertising, and we have followed other countries on this,” she said. “But we did not expect it to proliferate in the way that it did, that Canadians of all ages could be subjected to this advertising on a very frequent basis.”

Deacon Wants Committee to Take Up Bill

The next step in the process for S-269 will be a second reading, which Deacon told OntarioBets would likely happen shortly after lawmakers return in mid-September.

That would allow for a committee to hear the bill. That also would allow lawmakers to receive expert testimony and ask questions to amend the legislation. Deacon’s bill currently only mentions sports betting, but she said the committee could hear from experts that would recommend it cover iGaming, too. In the nation’s most populous province, Ontario online casino launched alongside sports betting in April 2022.

A committee hearing would also likely lead to discussions about whether in-game references during broadcasts could or should be regulated.

“One of the things that has been coming up quite a bit is not just (commercials) during the game but what’s happening in between plays,” Deacon said.

She said she also hopes that discussions on the bill may lead the administration – ministers serve as members in the House of Commons in Canada’s Parliament – to take up its own bill, which would have a better chance of passage.

“I have no problem with that as long as we’re looking at something moving forward,” Deacon said.

Possible Ontario Sports Betting Regulation Changes

One question that remains unanswered is whether provinces or territories could go beyond any federal guidelines if Deacon’s bill becomes law. She told OntarioBets that’s why she wants to get provincial leaders involved in the talks with officials in Ottawa to see if that’s necessary.

Deacon filed her bill as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is considering changes to its regulations.

In a statement Thursday to OntarioBets, the commission said it was “not appropriate to offer comment” on S-269 since it is an agency run by a province.

However, AGCO added that it has constantly reviewed its rules and regulations since casino apps Ontario and online sports betting launched last year.

In that review, “advertising and marketing approaches that include athletes, as well as celebrities that can reasonably be expected to appeal to minors, were identified” as a risk.

“The AGCO has completed stakeholder consultations regarding changes we are proposing to iGaming advertising standards,” the commission’s statement read. “We customarily conduct such engagements before considering any regulatory changes. We received approximately 40 submissions from a diverse range of stakeholders and are now conducting a detailed review of all information received.”



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters. He shares his expertise on OntarioBets, among other sites.

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